Anticancer agents have been shown to trigger apoptosis in chemosensitive tumors such as neuroblastomas. We previously identified activation of the CD95 system as one of the key mechanisms for doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in leukemic T cells. Here, we report that therapeutic concentrations of doxorubicin, cisplatinum, and VP-16 led to induction of CD95 receptor and CD95 ligand (CD95-L) that mediated cell death in chemosensitive neuroblastoma cells. Using F(ab′)2 anti-CD95 antibody fragments to interfere with CD95-L-receptor interaction markedly reduced apoptosis induced by those drugs in vitro. Cyclosporin A inhibited induction of CD95 mRNA and CD95-L mRNA and blocked drug-mediated apoptosis. Drug-induced apoptosis involved activation of caspases (interleukin 1β-converting enzyme/Ced-3-like proteases) and processing of the prototype caspase substrate PARP and was completely blocked by benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone, a peptide inhibitor of caspases. In addition, neuroblastoma cells that were resistant to CD95-triggered apoptosis also displayed cross-resistance to chemotherapeutic agents. These data provide new clues for understanding the molecular requirements for drug-induced apoptosis in chemosensitive neuroblastoma cells by demonstrating that cell death was mediated via the CD95-L-receptor system and may open new avenues for targeting drugresistance of neuroblastoma.

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This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (to K-M. D.), the Tumor Center Heidelberg/Mannheim, and the Deutsche Leukämieforschungshilfe.

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